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Comune di Cupramontana

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Italy during the Pliocene and the greater glacial expansion  

The Cupramontana terroir lies on Sheet 117 of the Geological Map of Italy 1:100,000, and Sheet 292 of the map 1:50,000 (CARG project).

From these maps one can derive the general characteristics and the age of the terrains of Cupramontana and the geological formations upon which different types of soil were formed.

Furthermore, geological and geomorphological maps of the Regione Marche at the scale of 1:10,000 are available.

It would be desirable in the future also to map single cru vineyard, but to do so it requires core sampling and other specific analyses to determine the pedology and the true stratification of any specific lot of land.

In general it should be noted that all of Cupramontana territory is part of the Umbria-Marche Apennines, which is essentially made up of a 4-km-thick succession of sedimentary rocks that were deposited in a subsiding marine basin since the Triassic Period, some 250 million years ago.

Starting in the Miocene Epoch, about 23 million years ago, this sedimentary succession responded to a regime of tectonic compression with folding, faulting, and uplifting to form the mountain ranges and hills of our Apennine region, eventually emerging from the ancient proto-Mediterranean basin that geologists call Tethys Ocean.

The hills of the Cupramontana terroir were formed in the later phase of this process of tectonic uplifting and structural deformation, more or less during the early Pliocene Epoch, some 4-5 million years ago.



Excerpt Geological Map of Italy 1:100.000


The yellow area to the east represents upper Pliocene clay-rich formations (ca. 3 million years old); the dominant orange area (P1) represents clays, marls, and sandstones deposited in the early Pliocene (ca. 5 million years ago); the pink and brown areas between Cupramontana and Staffolo represent formations dating back to the Miocene (deposited between 23 and 6 million years ago mostly made up of more or less marly limestones, bituminous shales, and gypsum.




Geological Section of the Territory of Cupramontana


The predominant geological formation is therefore that of Argille Azzurre (FAA), found throughout the ancient Po-Adriatic marine basin.

We must however remember how this formation presents a series of diversified lithofacies (sedimentary rock types), which testimony different modes of sedimentation.

Moreover, as can be readily seen in geological maps, a vast part of the Cupramontana terroir, in particular the slopes of San Michele and Manciano that slant toward Staffolo, present a completely diverse geological succession dating back to the Miocene Epoch and dominated by the Schlier Formation (SCH, deposited between 16 and 7 million years ago) and by the Gessoso-Solfifera Formation (GES, deposited between 7 and 5 million years ago).


 GROUND MAP 1/10.000


Ground Map scale 1 on 10.000


In order to draw a “soil map” for wines from Cupramontana it requires an analysis of the regional geological map 1:10,000, and in particular the illustrative notes of the map 1:50,000 (CARG project) where it is possible to locate more precisely the lithology of the terrain of this area in an attempt to tie it to the sensory quality and typology of Cupramontana wines.



FAA2 Arenaceous clays

FAA2 Arenaceous clays (sandstone dominated)

A soil very common in Cupramontana, especially in the districts of San Michele (the upper part), Follonica, San Bartolomeo, Posserra, Salerna/Esinante, Morella. One sees an alternation of clay and sandstone but with a ratio higher in sandstone and with layers of stratification always very distinct. The sandstone layers are generally compact, have a thickness ranging from a few decimeters to some meters, an average medium-fine grain size with a gray-yellowish color; the thickness of the pelitic intervals is usually less than that of the sandstone, it is grayish in color and it appears like thin shavings. It is noted also, the widespread presence of “cogoli” and the true banks of sandstones (blocks).


FAAb Conglomeratic sandstones

FAAb Conglomeratic sandstones

Soil that emerges extensively in Poggio San Marcello and Montecarotto. Cupramontana covers mainly the districts of San Marco, Colmorino, Eremiti, the high ridges of Scheggia, Pietrone, Alvareto and in general all the ridges higher in elevation. It consists of compound components passing laterally across sandstone-conglomerates and sand, in a lenticular shape lying down. The individual pebbly components appear, most of the time, with an erosive base and develop with variable thicknesses from a few decimeters to some meters with variable lateral extensions. Locally present are sandstone/ sand and pelitic intercalations having thicknesses of a few decimeters.


FAe1 FAA2e Clays with a portion of standstone

FAe1 FAA2e Clays with a portion of standstone

They are found only in the areas of San Michele, Badia Colli – Bottignone and Follonica, and are primarily clay of bluish color when freshly broken, and light gray alternations, with intercalated sandstone turbidites gray-yellowish in color, in very thin layers, rarely medium or thick.

LAG1e Turbidite Clays

LAG1e Turbidite Clays

In the zone of Colonara of Cupramontana (and in part Follonica) there is a turbidite succession of measurable thickness around 20-30 meters. It is sterile pelitic soil, at times malodorous, rich in micaceous material, interspersed with layers of fine sandstone which are sometimes graded and laminated. The sandstones are present in lesser quantities in respect to the pelitic soil and, on occasion, reach a thickness of one meter. The presence of the Laga Formation is important and indicates the activation of a foredeep phase, fueled by the rising of the Apennines Mountains. On the sheet Jesi the deposits of this formation represent the northwestern border of the broader Laga Basin that extends toward the south.


GES Marly Clay and Chalk

GES Marly Clay and Chalk

This formation emerges extensively in the anticlinal structure of Cupramontana-Staffolo, therefore in the districts of San Michele (lower part), Spescia, Follonica (lower part), Colonara, and Manciano (upper part). The formation essentially consists of an alternation of clays and tobacco-colored clay marl, tripolacee marl, bituminous dark clays, levels of evaporitic limestone and rare chalk. The lithofacies of the Gessoso-Solfifera Formation, although incomplete and lacking in depth, are linked to the well-known Salinity Crisis recognized throughout the Mediterranean region.


SCH Marl and Marly Clay

SCH Marl and Marly Clay

This formation is characterized by whitish calcareous marl, in thin layers, alternating typically with marl and gray marly clay with stratification barely evident. It is found in the districts of Colonara, Valle, Manciano, Carpaneto, Brecciole. It is a soil-type geologically more ancient (from 13 to 7 million years ago). The marly and marly-clay lithofacies are prevalent in all the sequences and, to themselves, associate calcareous marl and marly limestone (more frequent in external zones) and the interbedded calcareous turbidites that are exclusive to the southern sectors of the basin. The marly lithofacies are characterized by a prevailing pelagic component, consisting of well preserved planktonic foraminifera and clay minerals.